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Click the photo of the 2008 TL for a high-res gallery

Acura kicked off its 2008 model presentation with a rundown of what's new for 2008, which isn't much. The bulk of the presentation was actually about the development of the AXR-01 LMP2 race car. Once that was over, we had the opportunity to select from a fleet TL and TSX sedans for the drive out to Waterford Hills Raceway. I hopped into a six-speed manual TL Type-S to traverse the forty mile route that Acura laid out for us.

The driving route consisted of a mix of stop-and-go and medium-speed city driving, low-speed neighborhoods and twisty back roads. Under the hood, the TL Type-S has a 3.5L SOHC V-6 equipped with Honda's VTEC variable valve timing system. The V-6 has an output of 286 hp and 256 lb-ft of twisting force. The torque peaks at 5,000 rpm but feels reasonably strong at lower revs as well giving the engine a flexible, responsive feel.

The powerplant's output is transferred from the crankshaft to the front wheels of our tester via a six-speed manual transmission. Rowing the shifter proved to be a smooth, effortless exercise. The gearbox had precise gates and never felt notchy even when being downshifted quickly to make a pass on a two-lane road. The clutch was also nicely weighted with a smooth takeup. Around town, the TL pulled always pulled away smoothly. The Honda V-6 was quiet, smooth-revving and never felt strained.

The only real fly in the ointment reared its ugly head during that same passing maneuver. An aggressive stab at the gas pedal yielded a nasty jerk to the left as torque steer proved again that high powered cars should transmit at least some of their output through non-steering wheels. The current TL is only available with front-wheel-drive, but hopefully the next generation will offer Acura's Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system at least as an option. The current third generation TL has been on the market since September 2003 and is derived from the previous generation US-market Accord. With a new Accord being rolled out as this is written, the next TL will probably launch by this time next year.

Aside from the torque steer, the TL was a pleasurable ride that never lost its composure along some twisty roads in Northern Oakland County. Driven at speeds that could exercise the suspension and tires without putting one's license at excessive risk, the TL's steering was nicely weighted but didn't provide BMW levels of feedback. The Brembo front brakes felt strong and progressive and had good pedal feel with no mushiness. The handling was fairly neutral up to eight-tenths and the suspension did a good job of absorbing the bumps while the dampers kept the body motions in check. Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity to flog the front-wheel-drive cars on the track.

Up front, the TL has comfortable, supportive leather seats with plenty of head and leg-room. The test model was equipped with the in-dash navigation system and surprisingly the audio system had a CD changer and another narrower but thicker slot ostensibly for some format called a cassette. I'll have to remember to look those up on Engadget to see when they're coming out.

In previous reviews of the Saturn Aura and Outlook I've complained about some fit and finish issues, particularly the alignment of trim between the door panels and dashboard. As nice a car as the Acura TL is, it too suffers from this very same ailment. If it's not good enough in a $25,000 Aura it sure shouldn't happen in a $38,225 luxury sport sedan.

We only had an hour with the TL and aside from this minor fit and finish issue and the torque steer it acquitted itself very well. Hopefully Honda will see fit to provide one for a more thorough evaluation soon so that we can tell you what the TL is really like to live with.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sounds to me like none of you has much time in a 08 tl.
      I have owned a 2008 TL-S 6M for 4 months and 9,000 miles and every day am more impressed. Test drove The Lexus models and a BMW 530. All nice cars but chose the Acura and very happy with it. Very fast! Comfortable and quality is excellent. I would quicky buy another if lost this one!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Between this and an Infiniti G35, tell me, WHY should anybody buy this?

      When is Honda finally going to get with it when it comes to Acura?! 20 years and they're STILL just building tarted up Accords! It was obvious then and it's obvious now.

      And oh yeah, bring back the RSX.
        • 7 Years Ago
        To be honest, I don't find the G35x to be a good looking vehicle at all. It may look good as a Coupe, but the G35 design looks kinda bubbly to me - must be the curves on the Sedan.

        In any case, the TL should be on an AWD platform. FWD cars should not be bigger than compact to midsize sedans, because as the engine displacement and the weight increase, the performance begins to fade.
      • 7 Years Ago
      lol talk about beating a dead horse... Acura's entire lineup is uninspiring.

      a 4000 pound babydick crossover which is neither a performer nor particularly utilitarian.

      A large SUV which is a minivan in wolfs clothing.

      An old rehashed euroaccord which is wantonly underpowered.

      this, which is an overpriced morsel of mediocre front wheel drive crud in a world of very capable RWD performers.

      And the Craptastic crown jewel the RL which is outclassed at every corner.

      This is like a washed up star paying paparazzi to follow them around to generate a buzz..

        • 7 Years Ago
        "a 4000 pound babydick crossover which is neither a performer nor particularly utilitarian."

        Well maybe but it's a lot nicer than a X3 inside! BTw, what is a babydick?

        "A large SUV which is a minivan in wolfs clothing."

        Fairly easy to see you have not driven the new MDX and obviously the Odessey wins so many awards that you are actually complimenting the MDX.

        "An old rehashed euroaccord which is wantonly underpowered."

        Totally agree.

        "this, which is an overpriced morsel of mediocre front wheel drive crud in a world of very capable RWD performers."

        Totally disagree. For those who want FWD this is a great car at a "reasonable" price, not great price. I have driven the IS250,350,G35, G35X,TL,TL-S at the track. All Infinity's have a bad issue with brake grab on first application. Annoying enough for me to eliminate as a candidate.

        All of the above mentioned cars are extremely fun to drive and when going 8-10's all are great cars and quite equal. Not everybody drives like the STIG to work and given that fact 7-8 of 10 people would not even know if their car is FWD or RWD except when the back comes out in the rain and snow.

        I can tell you that I have been stuck plenty of times with a rear drive car unable to get out of my parking space to swear off RWD as a primary car.

        RL. Well what can I can. If they sold it at $35,000 they could not build it fast enough. Way overpriced but I have never seen a review knock it technically. The V8 issue is just that, a market position issue.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't know why your torque steer would have been that evident, as the 6-speed manual transmission comes with a limited-slip differential. In my 63,000+ miles of experience with a 6-speed 2004 TL, I have rarely experienced it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Acura has nothing to introduce this model year, so they do these PR puff pieces. Yawn.
        • 7 Years Ago
        true dat. i used to put together these "PR puff pieces". if you've got no news to talk about, you make news: look at these new options packages, the new paint choices, the stuff that was optional last year that's standard this year - all in all, we've made over 150 new changes to this year's car yatta yatta yatta.

        you feed the media lots of good food and booze and put them up in a nice hotel. you laugh at their jokes and you tell them they've lost weight since the last time you saw them. you make them feel special by having them sit next to engineers and marketing executives and pray your people don't say stupid things that end up on print.

        you have the cars all lined up perfectly and map out driving courses the media don't follow anyways. you make sure you've got a stash of spare tires laying about and you always keep a couple seat belt extenders for the 'generously sized' writers.

        all in a day's work...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Making a higher powered "S"port model and having it be front wheel drive is absurd. It only works for sub 20k econo cars. 38K NOT. Infiniti, Caddy, Lexus, BMW, they all get it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is the same TL that beat the new Lexus IS and G sedan around a track in a recent comparison test, yes?

      Hah, FWD beating more powerful RWD on the track. Sort of tells you that Honda's doing something right.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have been planning to buy a car for a year or so now and the TL-S and G35S are my top contenders. I just drove the TL-S yesterday and even though the ride is a tad firmer than the base, it is worth it. I am probably going to buy the TL-S this week when I go back. Even though I am an enthusiast, I find that I am getting tired of compromises in my daily commute. Not enough to sacrifice a manual trans mind you, but ride and noise start to wear on you. Not to mention a few other things; the G35 costs $400 a year more for ins(with Farmers) and gets 2-3 mpg or less worse than the TL.

      Then there is foul weather, where the FWD easily bests the RWD. We get very little snow where I live but when we do, it's crippling. With FWD I can get by with just A/S tires, if I bought the G35, I would need a second set.
      I find the times I actually wished I had RWD are few and far between, you just can't drive at a level that it matters during daily life. I have driven the CTS-V and last gen M3 on autocross courses and I simply love what you can do with that much HP and RWD, but unless you really like tickets, you can't drive like that very often. Add to that the Acura's reliability and inclusive load-out and it steps up another rung.

      I have just been offered a TL-S for almost 5,000 off MSRP, Infiniti doesn't seem to want to deal right now. Not only is the TL-S a great car, it's also an amazing value. Since I will only have one car, it needs to be practical, and this one is more so than it's competitors. We will see if I am as impressed when I go back for a second look, if I am I will be driving it home.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I have this from past 3 years and is quite economical, comparing other models of same class TLS have many features. negative point is that transmission is not smooth and windows rattles a lot.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Acura is simply milking this platform. The current TL started at under 30k and has gone up in price each year. This is simply a cash cow until they can come out with a new model.

      The G35 and G37 hands down are vastly better cars. Just test drive one and you'll know. Press the gas and get ready to be pushed back into your seat.

      Oh and I own neither car, thus no bias...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I went back and bought that TL-S, and now I have about 10,000 miles on it and average 25 MPG in my combined freeway(75-80mph) and city commute. You do have to mind the torque steer from time to time, but as far as a daily driver, this one puts a smile on your face. It's fun to drive and a superb freeway cruiser. I don't know who the moron was who geared the G35, but he should be shot. At my average freeway speeds, the G35 is doing over 3000 rpm. Why? that 3.5 should have no problem pulling 2.5-2.8K rpm. The car is already crude enough with vibration in the shifter, so much so most of the magazines prefer the auto trans. If I had to spend my time on the track every weekend, I might have bought something else, but I have no regrets about buying a TL-S.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The MDX is the same way in terms of trim alignment between door panel and dashboard. I suppose a well sealing door is more important to me than perfectly aligned trim pieces.

      Can't wait for the '09 TL though, if that's when they'll bring the 3rd gen. It would be one sweet car.
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